Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Name  Maine Returnable Beverage Container Law
Purpose Reduce litter and solid waste generation, create incentives for recycling and reuse
Enacted 11/2/1976
Date Implemented 6/1/1978
Regulations Maine Revised Statues, Title 38, Chapter 33, §3101-§3117 (2015 update)
Beverages Covered All beverages except dairy products, unprocessed cider, and Maine-produced apple cider and blueberry juice
Containers Covered All sealed containers made of glass, metal or plastic, containing 4 liters or less, excluding aseptics and cartons
Amount of Deposit Wine/liquor above 50mL: 15¢
All others (including wine/liquor "nips" ≤50mL): 5¢
Reclamation System Retail stores, bag drop locations, redemption centers; dealers may refuse containers if they have an agreement with a nearby redemption center.
Handling Fee

5.5¢, effective 5/1/2023 [1]

6¢, effective 9/1/2023 [2]

3.0¢ for "a brewer that produces no more than 50,000 gallons of product or a water bottler who sells no more than 250,000 containers of up to 1 gallon annually". [3]

Unredeemed Deposits Property of state (when containers are not subject to a commingling agreement)
Redemption Rate

2022 Overall Redemption Rate [4]: 78%

2021 Redemption Rates [5]

 Material  Redemption Rate  Units Sold Units Returned
 Plastic  67%  574,376,295  383,527,087
 Metal  85%  467,789,019  395,768,548
 Glass  76%  128,210,055  97,284,209
 Total  74.9%  1,170,375,369  875,579,844


2020 Redemption Rates

Material Deposit Redemption Rate Units Sold Units Returned
Plastic $ 0.05 69.0 % 261,135,826 180,177,447
  $ 0.15 32.4 % 15,442,901 5,000,729
  Subtotal 76.0% 276,578,727 185,178,176
Metal $ 0.05 84.9% 316,251,772 268,566,534
   $ 0.15  21.5%  1,095,966 235,139
  Subtotal  84.7% 317,347,738 268,801,673
 Glass  $ 0.05  75.7% 100,137,992 75,761,004
   $ 0.15  78.4%  24,093,414 18,879,283
  Subtotal  76.2% 124,231,406 94,640,287
 Overall  $ 0.05  77.4% 677,525,590 524,504,985
   $ 0.15  59.3%  40,632,281 24,115,151
   Total  76.4% 718,157,871 548,620,136



Prior to 2018/19, the redemption rate was not measured and reported on annually in Maine.

The Maine Beverage Association reported an unofficial redemption rate of 84% for 2016. [6] [7]

Official redemption rates for CY 2020 were first reported by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in July 2021, per new reporting requirements. [8] [9]

% of All Beverages Sold That Are Covered By Deposit 92% [10]


In June 2017, the Senate voted to place a 5¢ deposit on 50 milliliter and smaller liquor bottles (commonly known as "nips").  All wine/liquor containers larger than 50 milliliters remain at deposit values of 15¢.[11]

Distributors who initiate deposits have the obligation to pick up containers from the dealers they deliver to or from the licensed redemption center that serves those dealers. There is a per container fine of $100 for accepting containers purchased out of state for redemption.

To prevent out-of-state redemption fraud, rules were added in 2009, requiring people wishing to redeem more than 2,500 beverage containers at a time to provide their name, license plate number, and address each time they return containers in bulk. Exceptions are made for nonprofit organizations. Other changes made at this time include a limit on the number of redemption centers in a municipality, based on population, and a requirement for dealers or redemption centers to accept plastic wrap used for beverage containers.

In 2019, the law was revised to prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from issuing new redemption center licenses from May 2, 2019 to January 15, 2020. In 2023, the governor enacted emergency legislation raising the handling fee from 4.5¢ to 5.5¢ starting May 1st and to 6¢ starting September 1, 2023. [12]

In 2023, two laws were passed to modernize Maine's bottle bill program: LD 134 and LD 1909. LD 134, which took effect upon the Governor's signature in 2023, caused an immediate increase in the handling fee from 4.5¢ to 5.5¢. A further increase in the handling fee to 6¢ occurred in September 2023. [13]

LD 1909 was passed and signed into law in July 2023. The law shifts brand-level sorting of beverage containers to material-type sorting. The law also mandates the creation of a new "commingling cooperative," requiring all established commingling groups to participate, manage, and implement a single commingling agreement. The Department of Environmental Protection must now also adopt rules to adjust the handling fee of containers to keep up with the rate of inflation biannually, beginning in January 15, 2025. [14]

Commingling Agreements

Provisions for "commingling agreements" exist in the Maine legislation to increase the efficiency of the redemption process. The following information is from a study by the Maine Department of Agriculture. [15]

"Commingling groups” which represent approximately 2/3 of the beverage industry are 2 or more initiators of deposit (distributors) of beverage containers for which they have initiated deposits to be commingled by dealers and redemption centers. The advantages of comingling agreements allow for the commingling of beverage containers by like product group (beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks etc.) material and size.

Distributors who are members of a commingling agreement pick up all other beverage containers subject to the agreement in assigned geographical locations. The end result is less sorting for redemption centers and less handling and transportation costs for distributors.

By default all unclaimed deposits must be transferred monthly to the state of Maine, but this does not apply to containers that are subject to a commingling agreement. [16] After LD 1909's passage, all unredeemed deposits must now be transferred to a special fund held by the state of Maine exclusively to support and maintain the bottle bill program. [17]

After the implementation of LD 1909, all deposit initiators are required by law to enter a commingling agreement by April 15, 2024. All commingling groups must participate in a single commingling cooperative to manage Maine's bottle bill program under a single program.  [18]

Program Success

Redemption information in Maine has been historically difficult to track down. A 2007 survey by the Maine Department of Agriculture contains some redemption and sales information, but was unable to find any "reliable conclusions" due to lack of participation. In 2017, beverage industry sources reported a redemption rate of 84% [19].

A May 2018 OPEGA report (the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability of the Maine State Legislature) discussed how the lack of required reporting made it difficult to assess deposit initiator compliance, and the program's success and efficiency. [20]

In 2019, the law was revised to require deposit initiators and pick-up agents to report the number of beverage containers sold and picked up from redemption centers for recycling. A process to collect this information from beverage distributors and pick-up agents began in 2020, with redemption rate results first reported in 2021 for the prior two calendar years. [21] 


[1] "An Act to Increase the Handling Fee for Beverage Containers Reimbursed to Dealers and Redemption Centers." May 5, 2023.

[2] “An Act to Modernize Maine’s Beverage Container Redemption Law.” Signed July 27, 2023.

[3] "Fact Sheet: Handling Fees." Reloop Inc. April 6, 2020.

[4] Personal communication with Scott Wilson,Maine Department of Environmental Protection. August 29, 2023.

[5] "Annual Product Stewardship Report: January 2023." Maine Department of Environmental Protection. 2023.

[6] "Maine’s Beverage Container Redemption Program–Lack of Data Hinders Evaluation of Program and Alternatives; Program Design Not Fully Aligned with Intended Goals; Compliance, Program Administration, and Commingling Issues Noted." A report to the Government Oversight Committee from the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability of the Maine State Legislature. May 2018. 

[7] "Nips law signed June 7, 2017." Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry E-mail Communication with Steve Giguere February 27, 2017; 2017 redemption rate: Letter from Newell Augur, Maine Beverage Association to Maine State Sen. Tom Saviello and Rep. Ralph Tucker. January 18, 2018.  

[8] Personal communication with Scott Wilson, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, August 27, 2020.

[9] Personal communication with Tiffany Veilleux, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, July 2, 2021. 2020 data is based on first full year of mandated data collection, with approximately 85% of retailers in compliance with reporting requirements.

[10] "2019 Beverage Market Data Analysis." Container Recycling Institute. 2022.

[11] Statutes of Maine: Title 38: Chapter 33: §3103. “Refund Value.”

[12] See Footnote 1.

[13] See Footnote 2.

[14] Statutes of Maine: Chapter 38 MRSA §3102 to §3119.

[15] "Response to Chapter 40 Resolve, To Estimate the Annual Value of Uncollected Bottle Deposits, Fraud and Total Costs under Maine's Bottle Bill." Maine Department of Agriculture. 2007.

[16] "Unclaimed deposits." Statutes of Maine: Title 38: Chapter 33: §3108.

[17] See Footnote 12.

[18] Ibid.

[19] See Footnote 4.

[20] Ibid.

[21] "Annual Product Stewardship Report: January 2021." Maine Department of Environmental Protection. 2021.


Further Reading

Maine Department of Agriculture, Division of Quality Assurance and Regulations.A Report Prepared for the 123rd Legislature Joint Standing Committee on Business, Research and Economic Development: Response to Chapter 40 Resolve, To Estimate the Annual Value of Uncollected Bottle Deposits, Fraud and Total Costs under Maine's Bottle Bill.


Last Updated on January 3, 2024.

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Contact - Maine

For information on labeling requirements, please contact your government agency.


Scott Wilson,
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
17 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0017
P: (207) 446-1187
E: [email protected]


Natural Resources Council of Maine
3 Wade Street
Augusta, ME 04330
P: (207) 622-3101